I know I’m late but it’s time to watch the controversial episode!
I’m not entirely sure if the death threats sent to the producers and Kana Ichinose (Ichigo’s CV) are true; I currently can’t find an official source to confirm. That said, I do recall seeing those rumors and even if they were just rumors, I think it’s safe to say that a couple of Darling in the FranXX fans were genuinely pissed about Episode 14, perhaps more extremely than they ought to be.
Now I’m not here to exactly offer my two cents on the controversy. Plenty of more famous anime analysts have done that when the episode was airing and all I can add is that I agree that the most extreme reactions are abhorrent. I did, however, feel the need to bring up the fact that this episode did push people’s buttons because I do see the root of the problem. It is just too damn easy to interpret Episode 14 as Ichigo cockblocking Zero Two and keeping Hiro all for herself.
To be fair, I don’t think Ichigo’s role is contrived. If anyone was going to be fed up with Zero Two’s treatment of Hiro, it was going to be her. Say what you will about that kissing scene but that is something Ichigo would definitely resort to after seeing Hiro still wanting to make up with Zero Two in spite of what has transpired. It’s selfish on her part and potentially frustrating for the viewer (and it was a little for me) but it’s at least in line with what we’ve seen of her character so far.
That said, I think what would’ve helped this episode is knowing more about how the other squad members feel about the whole situation. Ichigo leading the charge makes sense but it honestly feels like a lot of her teammates are complicit with her decisions. Satoshi, Zorome, and Miku just act as bodyguards (which knowing them, that’s a terrible idea). I don’t even think Ikuno contributes anything to the discussion. It’s really just Gorou and Kokoro playing devil’s advocate here and that’s not shocking in any way, given their personalities. Had the characters offer their own thoughts on the matter, I think it would’ve made it less painfully obvious that this episode is mostly a competition between Ichigo and Zero Two.
I’m also a little mixed on how Hiro and Zero Two’s only scene together is handled. Hiro has every right to be horrified at Zero Two going full yandere but you would think he’d be more careful about calling her a monster or a human now that he knows what kind of stuff she’s been through. The drama also seems contrived here; a big excuse to create a rift between Hiro and Zero Two just to push the talk about their shared past further down the road. Also frustrating was that the scene is purely because of one big misunderstanding. See, this is why you shouldn’t let Miku act as a bodyguard.
It’s a slight shame because I thought Zero Two’s latest character development showed a lot of promise. Her shock that Hiro is her original darling and the subsequent guilt she feels with how she’s been treating him lately is really interesting. Furthermore, the very dynamic between Darling‘s two leads has fundamentally changed. Before, it was just Hiro wanting Zero Two’s companionship to feel useful, both to her and the society he serves. Now, we see that Zero Two desires to become human for a similar reason; so that she can be accepted both by the society she serves and the darling she remembers. I imagine that Darling will explore this (and probably already has with the episodes I need to see) but right now, I’m a little annoyed that the show felt the need to stretch this out for a bit longer.
- Mitsuru sure got over Hiro forgetting their promise pretty easily. Or maybe he’s secretly surprised that Hiro finally remembered?
- Kudos for Gorou for calmly walking out once he saw Ichigo making her move on Hiro. It’s such a blow to his own feelings for Ichigo but he knew going in that Ichigo wouldn’t reciprocate anytime soon and just lets it be. Still rooting for the guy though.
- I really like how Zero Two’s horns slowly get bigger. For an anime that shoves doggy style mech piloting at our faces, it can be surprisingly subtle in the right ways.
- Seriously, Haruka Tomatsu is just terrific as Zero Two. She really gives the emotional range this kind of character requires. However Darling ends up as a series overall, I think this character will go down as one of Tomatsu’s best performances.
Thanks for reading!
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